Yasmin Lee Arpon/ANN
BEIJING, Oct. 24: The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) is ready to step in on the border dispute between Thailand and Cambodia, even as the leaders of the two warring countries said today that they have put the recent clashes behind them.
“Asean is ready to help but the concerned parties said they will exhaust all resources first,” Asean secretary general Mr Surin Pitsuwan said in an exclusive briefing today in Beijing. Thai PM Mr Somchai Wongsawat and Cambodian PM Mr Hun Sen met at the sidelines of the two-day Asia-Europe meeting attended by 45 leaders from the two continents and said they were confident that both sides will resolve the dispute soon. The two leaders said the border clashes this month that killed three Cambodian soldiers and wounded a Thai soldier are behind them. “We are not just neighbours, we are very good friends indeed,” Thai foreign minister Mr Sompong Amornvivat said after the meeting. “His Excellency Hun Sen said the incident that already happened is not the kind that both countries want. It happened instantly. That was uncontrollable at the time. But when things come to this point, the two sides have to advise our troops not to have confrontation any longer,” Mr Sompong said.
The two sides vowed to resort to “all existing mechanisms to solve the problem on the border”. At the root of the dispute is the Preah Vihear temple, which the International Court of Justice awarded to Cambodia in 1962, which Thailand has resented.